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I am really puzzled about a widowed friend

(52 Posts)
Stansgran Sat 08-Apr-17 16:37:08

And I don't know how to react. She was widowed last August . Her husband had been in poor health for a long time. Since the funeral she has been very busy, obviously with the paper work and sorting out the house removing his stuff and all the things involved with illness. When we meet she never stops talking. She never asks about anyone else who is there or how they or their family are. She is out and about every day and it's as if schools out! Is this a normal stage in bereavement? I was with her and other friends recently, two of whom had had quite significant events in their lives which she knew about and even though I asked them in turn she interrupted with her monologue about her grandchildren and her visits out and her holiday. Totally no interest in the others there. It just seemed so strange and self centred and anti social. I am interested to know if this is a phase or a stage in old age- she is over 80 and I have known her for twenty odd years.

Anniebach Sat 08-Apr-17 16:51:25

Be patient Stansgran, she is eighty, her world has collapse , she has to find herself , some withdraw from friends, cut themselves off from the world, some jump on a mental merrygoround so as to block out the pain, her nights will be so different I don't think there is a normal stage of bereavement, we all react to loss of a loved one in a way which helps us cope.

About two years after I was widowed a friend was widowed, in less than a year she asked me how the hell did I cope with the lonliness, she remarried and it was hell for her.

Stansgran Sat 08-Apr-17 17:16:17

Anniebach I think you have hit the nail on the head. Jumped on a merry go round is exactly what she seems to be doing. It is just so out of character. And saying that she will be sought after as she is a wealthy widow. I'm uncomfortable around her at the moment and I don't want to avoid her as I hear that as a complaint by the bereaved that they are ignored . And you are right . Give her time.

MawBroon Sat 08-Apr-17 17:29:01

Would it be unkind to suggest that perhaps years of her life revolving round a poorly DH she is experiencing feelings of a degree of release, a time to be herself?
A reaction easily understood, and she may of course "swing" the other way and become depressed once the adrenaline has subsided.
Either way she needs her friends around her - at a distance if she is really hard going.

BlueBelle Sat 08-Apr-17 17:43:28

Sometimes people talk too much when they are stressed it sounds to me as if she is over compensating for her own vulnerability and is a bit hyper about it all I d say stick with it she will probably come down to earth with a big bump as Mawboon has said

Anniebach Sat 08-Apr-17 19:13:45

When I was widowed I did the dafest things , I cut out foods my husband enjoyed because I felt guilty he couldn't share with me. The evenings were hell once the children went to bed, this was early because they were five and seven, I played the records he bought me over and over and over, our elder daughter now in her forties gets upset if she hears 'She', I didn't think they could hear it, must have been awful for them. He loved photography so I had rather a lot of his photographs framed, I framed his work from art college, but I couldn't have one photograph of him out. I had a baby sitter so I could go and stand in a telephone kiosk at night because when we dated and it was winter we would stand in it to get out of the rain. I even went to the cemetery and lay in his grave - I made sure there was no one around. One night I decided enough was enough without him, I went up to my bedroom to get sleeping pills , just wanted not to cope with life without him, our younger daughter's bedroom door was open and she looked so peaceful, it hit me then that I was about to inflict grief on them, I got myself together .

I say this to try to explain grief can cause anyone do to things which are in no way normal behaviour and for no other reason, it was a long time ago.

Don't stay away from her Stansgran, she may be relieved she doesn't have to be a carer any longer or she may be frightened and lost. But don't allow her grief to affect you, you cannot take here grief away and she could exhaust you. Take care of you X

mumofmadboys Sat 08-Apr-17 19:40:56

Perhaps she finds it hard living alone and having no-one to talk to so when she is with people she talks far too much!!

cornergran Sat 08-Apr-17 20:03:29

It could be a coping mechanism, stansgran, filling her life and talking about anything to avoid silence and feeling her grief. It could in fact be anything. It sounds as if the lack of interest in others is difficult, it must be hard when there are important things in the lives of others. It is relatively early days in her bereavement and as annie describes so well people can behave totally out of character. I don't have an answer other than try to continue to be kind and patient. It's good she has people who care.

FarNorth Sat 08-Apr-17 20:17:37

I think that the doings of others are simply not really registering with her and that she is struggling in a state of shock.
Anniebach has described her own apparently illogical behaviour and I think your friend is also behaving strangely in her attempts to keep going without cracking up altogether.
I hope you can keep supporting her but take care of yourself too, Stansgran.

nina1959 Sat 08-Apr-17 23:08:03

Complete denial about the state of her world. She's just trying to keep it all normal. Poor girl.

Hopehope Sun 09-Apr-17 00:11:33

Annibach your post made me

Grief can and is different for everyone, I think we have to accept how we all cope with it. I am one who withdraws into myself, also in times of stress. I look back and feel guilty sometimes because I have cut people out who have tried to help me, and that has been hurtful to them. Not a deliberate action on my part. I just can't cope with kindness when I have my back to the wall, so to speak. Is that odd?

Penstemmon Sun 09-Apr-17 08:20:54

We are all so different. Maybe she is still in a state of shock and can only focus on her own needs /interests still. A sort of self -presrvation. On the other hand she may always have had a tendency to be socially insensitive but it has become more evident in old age or as a result of her having to always put DH needs forst..she is playing catch up. Need a good friend to help her round this or she will alienate people. hmm

Stansgran Sun 09-Apr-17 08:26:33

Thank you there have been some helpful insights which haven't occurred .

sunseeker Sun 09-Apr-17 09:19:30

When I was first widowed I found myself over compensating. People tend to be uncomfortable around the recently bereaved and, in my case, I found I was forcing myself to appear extra cheerful and capable, (which by the way is exhausting). Whilst you want to support her in her grief, she is probably trying to make you and everyone else feel less uncomfortable. My guess is after a day of chatting and appearing fine and busy she goes home to bed and sobs.

Skweek1 Sun 09-Apr-17 10:26:15

Last August is no time - I've heard that the mininum time before normal behaviour can be expected to return is 2 years. Accept that she's still feeling lost, hurt and that her whole world is upside down.

Farawaynanny Sun 09-Apr-17 11:11:08

Grief is an awful thing, it affects everyone differently and there's no timescale for getting "back to normal". It changes us. I was widowed almost six years ago and I've lost count I'd the number of people who tell me I'm "different". Of course I am, I was married for almost 41 years, now I'm single.
Try to be understanding of your friend, be there for her, let her talk about anything and everything, it really does help.

Daisydoo2 Sun 09-Apr-17 11:14:02

It took me at least 2 years to find myself after my husband died. Yes, I was selfish, self absorbed etc but I had to be for my children and to survive. My husband did all the finances and tbh made all the decisions so I was floundering about not knowing how to do most things, including the finances. 2 years later I discovered I could do most things and my children flourished, but how my friends suffered - of which I lost a few on the way as I changed so much. My true friends stayed the course and 11 years later I would do anything for them, I will always be grateful for the support I received in the 'maniac' days. Just keep listening, your friend will calm down when she finds her feet again.

Jalima1108 Sun 09-Apr-17 11:25:14

I just wondered if your friend has been prescribed anti-depressants? When someone close to me died his widow was very depressed, had panic attacks and could not cope and the GP prescribed them. She became quite 'hyper', chatting happily non-stop more than she had ever done before.

Gassafepaul Sun 09-Apr-17 11:32:54

I lost my wife 6 years ago .I am just getting my life back on track .my wife died all of a sudden with no worning at all .I went mad on shopping and couldn't spend time at home .lucky for me our children were older. I don't think there's any right way to deal with the lose of our partners .I am very lucky to find a lady that helped me deal with the lose of my wife .friends are very important to be there and help you with the lose .Good luck with everyone who has lost there partners in life .god bless to you all

pinkjj27 Sun 09-Apr-17 11:41:37

The concept of what normal at the best of times is difficult. Normality is just what seems acceptable by a society at any given time. When someone you love dies that perception of normally goes out the window.
I lost my husband almost years ago and I have been through many different stages and I am still very much grieving. I have been at times so despairing, so lonely, so lost and at times so angry and probably self-focused , by nature I am not an angry or a selfish person. But is so unreasonable to think someone widowed in their 80s, might become self-focused and insensitive to others needs. Grieve can engulf and change a person.
I still work, still have a family and I do voluntary work, these things keep me balanced and focused. For someone who is 80 and alone perhaps this might be the only way she knows how to cope? Losing a love one makes you think of your own mortality and changes the way you see life. Sometimes I dwell on death and wondered how my grand kids will cope and sometimes this makes me over focus on them and forget about others around me.
I think this may be a combination of her age the impact her loss has had and just the way she is coping and changing the way she sees things.
How you cope or react to her I guess will depend on many things. But I do know she is lucky to have a friend that cares enough to have taken the trouble to post her concerns.

CardiffJaguar Sun 09-Apr-17 13:19:16

Everyone reacts differently; it can depend on personal circumstances or in some cases an inability to accept that life has inevitably changed.

Patience is your best approach. Eventually there will be an opportunity to talk and draw her out.

Sheilasue Sun 09-Apr-17 13:25:19

Grief takes people in different ways. She may think if she carry on the way she is she will cope ok, what is she like when she is alone at home?
When my son died and found I had to be positive for the sake of our gd his child.
Feelings were kept under wraps at first then when she was at school I and my husband found talking about him helped a lot.
He's been dead 10 years this year and although we are coping it never ever goes away. Time is the essence.
I also had counselling which helped greatly.

sarahellenwhitney Sun 09-Apr-17 13:29:21

Stansgran.You hit the nail on the head.
Sounds like school is definitely out for the bereaved lady,
or like a cat with two tails?
Do you know what life was like for her behind closed doors?
Give her time, let her carry on without judgement of how you or others believe a recently bereaved person should act and
certainly do not put it down to 'oh it must be her age'

annsixty Sun 09-Apr-17 13:56:02

I have hesitated before posting as I may upset some and others just won't understand.
As your friend is over 80 I assume it was a long marriage.
I have to say all marriages aren't bliss and long marriages especially so.
I have known widows in their 60/70s come out of their shell and start to live.
Your friend is over 80 and knows she doesn't have time on her side.
This does not excuse selfishness and lack of interest in others but after putting her H first for probably a long time she deserves to put herself first for a while. Talk over her when she goes on about family but let her be herself.
I will be 80 in a few months and will have been married for 59 years. I speak of what I know.

Anniebach Sun 09-Apr-17 14:01:21

I understand annsixty, after many years of marriage there could be a sense of freedom and this lady's husband had been in poor health for a long time.